Keith Breckenridge
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Special rights in property
Why modern African economies are dependent on mineral resources

This chapter discusses the feature of mineral resources which distinguishes them from the other assets in the continent's economy: the simplicity, precision and consistency of property rights in mineral resources. It considers whether mineral resources are very important in the workings of modern African economies, weighing them up against the other, much more popular, domains of economic activity. The chapter describes the history of mining development, offering a five-stage periodization in order to account for the special place of mining in many African economies. It shows that the developmental benefits of mining have been restricted to a special kind of metal mining, and that diamond and oil extraction are unlikely to repeat them. The chapter offers a wider conceptual explanation for the importance of mining in many African economies.

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